1. When did you first become interested in bodybuilding and why?
In high school prepping for football, PJ’s father started training him to be a bodybuilder but then unexpectedly left him and his mom. He recalls thinking “one day I will be so much bigger and better than he could ever imagine… from that day on I had this anger and fire inside me and I’d train so much harder and do so much more than anybody and I had that for years…That’s my story…I wanted to impress my dad.”
Aaron described himself as a tall, skinny kid but idolized actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone because of their physiques. Bodybuilding was the obvious solution to his desire to change. “Every day after school I’d work out at the gym, French Riviera Spa. I have an extremely obsessive personality so…I wanted to be the best at it but quickly found out that that wasn’t possible for me.”
2. Did you have a role model and/or mentor? If yes, who and what role did they play in your success?
PJ recalls being inspired by Arnold and his charisma, which was unique and has yet to be replicated in bodybuilding to this day. He most admired Kevin Levrone for his complete physique and proportionality.
Aaron realized he could never be an elite bodybuilder so instead of looking up to those people, he followed the people that bring bodybuilding and supplements to the people, Joe Weider and Peter McGough. “I found inspiration in them and the fact that you can be involved in something that you love even if you’re not an actual participant”.
The Beginning of Prime Nutrition:
3. When did you know that you wanted to start a supplement company and what prompted this desire?
PJ: “I knew all along when I was going to stop competing…I was a businessman first.” At the age of 31, he put all of his time and effort into his business.
Despite the fact that Blackstone labs was doing phenomenal, as he got older, Aaron’s focus changed from being the “biggest or most muscular guy” to “longevity, health, and living an optimal lifestyle”. The natural progression turned into starting the new label, Prime Nutrition. “We…didn’t want to mix a hardcore line like Blackstone labs with the more natural products we were interested in.”
4. Most supplement companies fail before making a big name for themselves. What helped make Prime Nutrition so successful?
PJ: “We understood the importance of social media…. If you can get your products, or yourself or your image, or whatever you’re selling out there for free, you can reach so many more people”.
5. What was your vision and mission for the company in the beginning?
PJ knows that people judge them and Blackstone Labs as “just this pro-hormone company” and worried about the response to more mainstream products. His vision was to produce and market quality products that were “tried and true” that everyone from kids to seniors could take and experience benefits. “We had a reputation of being the guys that put out the crazy stuff (laughing)…but we wanted to separate Prime…put out good, pure products that we know work”. PJ and Aaron wanted to look in the mirror and be proud of the products they were providing, products that could help everybody.
6. What do you see as the main differences between Prime Nutrition and other companies?
Aaron: “We put a tremendous amount of focus into getting the right ingredients from the right industry manufacturer. A lot of companies focus more on the bottom line than the type of product. We take our own products. I don’t want them to not taste that good or smell that good. A lot of business owners in this business don’t take their own supplements. We take supplements that we make and we make supplements so that we can take them.”
7. What is your philosophy behind the athletes you choose to sponsor and serve as ambassadors for your brand?
“I was focused on women in the beginning”, PJ explained, “they say sex sells and it definitely does but… I felt like that’s short lasting and I wanted to take pictures where other girls wanted to be like that girl”. He wanted to find someone who was inspiring to other women, someone his customers would look up to and respect. If female athletes could impress him during phone interviews with confidence, he felt they could represent his company well, which was really important to him. “I wanted to find a wholesome, good-looking, great physical specimen that also had moral fiber, that women respected and wanted to be like them…to me that’s the kind of stuff that you can build a company around“.
8. Prime Nutrition has quickly made a name for itself and its popularity is exponentially growing. Your products are becoming more widely available, being on bodybuilding.com, etc. To what do you attribute this quick success and growing popularity to?
PJ quickly responded, “We’re in the social media era... The biggest impact has been because of social media and being smart about marketing. GNC contacted us because they kept seeing us on social media. Behind that...we’re putting out good quality products.”
Aaron added, “I think that we did it a little differently than other people. We didn’t do it in the traditional way. We focused almost completely all on social media and different ways to do things such as bringing on Ingrid Romero and Team Edge. That out of the box thinking has allowed us to gain popularity.”
Current Prime Nutrition News:
9. The recent signing of Evan Centopani made headlines in the bodybuilding world and throughout social media for multiple reasons. How long was this signing in the works and how did it come about?
PJ: “It was very quick. My thing was if I want to bring in a male bodybuilder, I want to bring somebody to the table that I respect as a person and who has a really big following…I told Aaron there were two guys that I would put money into… Flex Lewis and Evan Centopani…(pauses laughing), and we’re not getting either one of those guys EVER so we’ll just use my pictures”. But someone told PJ that Evan’s not guaranteed to sign again with Universal, and he said to Aaron “listen, I love Evan, he’s like my brother, I believe in him as a person”. PJ and Aaron then pitched the idea of putting out a line of products to Evan, and the rest is history.
Aaron followed, “Evan told me that his contract with his previous company was up and he would be interested in exploring other options. So I started making calls…I know other owners of supplement companies. One day someone texted me and told me that I should sign Evan and it hit me…why am I not signing Evan?” Now Prime nutrition has Evan signed to a 5 year exclusive contract as an athlete AND executive in the business. Talk about a win-win!
10. Can you describe the role Mr. Centopani will be playing within the company and in regards to new product line development? Will he actually be formulating specific ingredients in these new products?
PJ explains, “He will have his own series… he’s formulating the products…he’s all about natural…we’ll support and help him put out those products under his series.”
11. In Mr. Centopanis’ press release he stressed the importance of creating products that reconnect health and performance. Can you give us a glimpse into such a product and it’s ingredients?
Aaron describes Mr. Centopanis’ philosophy, “He wants to bring products that are about integrating health and performance, and optimizing performance through health. His ideas have influenced our new Platinum series…with flavoring that is all natural, no artificial colors, no dyes, and no artificial sweeteners. “
PJ adds, “Without giving away too much of our marketing, he has a great concept…no one else is doing it. He believes in certain products and will be building a foundation of products…while educating consumers about the products…before expanding to other types of products.”
12. John Meadows was quickly brought onto the Prime Nutrition team following Mr. Centopani. Given his expertise in peri-workout nutrition, can we expect the same from him in terms of license to formulate peri-workout products?
“He actually contacted us,” noted PJ, “he (John) said I don’t want to just be an athlete, I want a role, I want to put my mind into something”. PJ clarified John’s role in formulating products, “the stuff he wants to do is not cheap…but we’re not going to take the cheap way out. We’re going to put out exactly what he wants…because the science and testing is behind what he says”. According to PJ, if John believes in his products and his clients are getting outstanding results, “the general consumer is going to feel the same way”.
The Future of Prime Nutrition:
13. With the recent signing of two male bodybuilders, one being a Mr. Olympia competitor, do you think this will affect the image of the company with the current customer base and the women customers?
PJ: “No, I think it’s expanding our demographic. I stand behind a foundation of products that I believe everybody should take.”
14. What do you envision for the future of Prime Nutrition?
PJ and Aaron clearly want to change the game; “You saw the video we put out…it’s such a different style than you usually see…and we gave so much truth”. PJ and Aaron have definitely done things their own way, showing everyone else how to run a successful supplement company in this industry. “We feel like we’re ahead of the times,” PJ laughs, “I hate to compare us to Apple because we’re nowhere near them [but] I feel like Apple, they told you what was cool and sexy, and you went out and got their product and you loved it”. PJ and Aaron are using a similar approach, telling people what’s good with the mindset of “this is the way we’re going to do it…we want to do things our way, and we’ve held true to that”. PJ continues, “people are following us, taking the products, and wanting more…this approach is working so why change it? We all want to be rich (laughs)…I’m not going to lie…but I want to do it in a way that I can feel good about what I’m doing”, PJ pauses, “That’s why we don’t have a protein product right now…we could have put out a whey concentrate blend and had huge margins, but I told Aaron, I can’t stand behind it. I can’t put out a product that’s not a high quality product. We’re still in the process of getting that great whey protein formula…but that’s the kind of stuff that we’re going to stand by.”
Aaron adds, “I think Prime is set to be a major player and you’ll see us coming out with new, innovative products that sell not just because they look good or because they make outlandish claims, but because they actually work well, they’re priced right, and people like them”. Noting a very bright future ahead, Aaron says, “we’re going to take this market by storm!”
Getting Down and Dirty with the Men Behind the Muscles:
15. If you had to choose one Prime Nutrition product (the inevitable alone on a deserted island question), which is your favorite and why?
PJ exclaims, “Ah...I love Phytoform! That was my idea from the beginning. We have a pharmacist on staff…and I said (to the Pharmacist) I wanted to put together a fruit and greens formula with the nutritional value of fresh vegetables and fruits…the phytonutrients are so good for you but you’d literally have to be eating fruits and vegetables all day long to get the true nutritional benefits…so we came out with Phytoform”. He adds, “it tastes awesome too…and the fact that can actually enjoy getting a full day supply of fruits and greens, load yourself up with phytonutrients, and get a good source of fiber… that gets back to what I wanted to do with this company, it’s something that everybody can take”. According to PJ, it doesn’t matter if you’re a grandma or a kid in high school, you can take the supplement and it will benefit you just like it benefits competitive bodybuilders.
Aaron agrees, “Phytoform. I don’t think most people get enough fruits and greens. I know that I don’t. I take it in the morning with protein powder and that combination tastes great…I make sure that I get in all the phytonutrients I need that I probably wouldn’t” without Phytoform.
16. They say that there is the “rule of threes,” can we expect any other big news from Prime Nutrition soon?
PJ responds, “We always have stuff that we’re working on…but we did just sign Callie Bundy, IFBB Bikini Pro. I don’t think we’re going to sign any more bodybuilders at this point”, followed by a hearty laugh.
17. As a successful businessman and entrepreneur you undoubtedly understand the importance of innovation, do you have any additional interests or ventures?
PJ answers that he and Aaron are also interested in having a retail store for supplements; it’s something that they’re looking into right now. As an entrepreneur, PJ wants to be involved in as many things as possible. He helped his wife (Celeste Bonnin) start her clothing line, noting with a chuckle, “clothes are way harder than supplements”. Regardless, he’s extremely passionate about it, partly because his wife and former WWE wrestling champion is very driven and didn’t want to come into his life without being able to contribute in a way that she felt was adequate. “She’s passionate about her clothing” muses PJ, who says the idea started when she would go out on TV and they would have to take her clothes and make them fit in the back and the waist; “people started complimenting her on it all the time and one day she said why am I not putting this out there for other people, so I told her we could be onto something”. They put everything into that idea and according to PJ, “it’s doing pretty good”.
Aaron, laughing, says the answer is yes but he can’t tell anyone about them. “I’m always working on new things. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin but you want to always keep your eyes open to opportunity.”
18. What motivates you to push so hard in business?
Aaron: “When my wife (Darielle) got pregnant my first thought was ‘oh shit’ because we weren’t married and I wasn’t expecting it”. But his next thought was “man, I better step it up, I better turn it on” because most of his life he felt like an underachiever but now it was time to change that. Aaron continues, “A lot of people say that when you have a child, they’re expensive, how are you going to afford him? The truth is that having a child (Asher) was my impetus to becoming successful. I strongly encourage people to find their reason…and for me, that was it. “
19. What is important for readers to know about you, what message would you like to get across to the readers and/or consumers?
PJ: “It’s important to me that everything I’m doing, I try to take care of the people I love and that love me.” He goes on to list family members and close friends that are currently working for their company. “My family is so proud of me. There’s nothing more rewarding than that, you can’t put a monetary value on that. I would never be where I am right now if I didn’t have an awesome mom and family. I look back and think of where I was when I first started; my success is because they supported me. I’m truly blessed.”
In talking with PJ Braun and Aaron Singerman it was easy to understand why they and their newest company Prime Nutrition are a quick success. Given their own histories of competitive bodybuilding, they undisputedly already have drive and determination. However, their ability to speak openly and honestly about themselves, their families, and their passions in life creates the unmistakable sense of being genuine. With their vision of creating products that they can stand behind and supporting athletes that others respect, they are becoming a company that consumers can believe in. I am left with the impression that Prime Nutrition will continue to experience success given that they continue to do things their own way and refuse to compromise on their mission to be “the best or nothing.”